Here is a position-by-position look at who stays, who goes when the Arizona Cardinals make their final cuts.
Throughout the offseason, the battle in the Cardinals' quarterbacks room has been for the third job -- not the first or second. With Palmer and Stanton healthy, and both of the other two quarterbacks on the roster practice-squad eligible, Arizona doesn't need to keep a third. Circumstances may cause that to change quickly if Palmer gets re-injured but not as of now. Second-year quarterback Logan Thomas solidified his spot on the practice squad Thursday night in Denver with a near perfect outing. Phillip Sims has been consistent but struggled a bit early in the first quarter. That'll be enough for Arizona to pick Thomas.
RUNNING BACK (5)
Arizona has finally found the backfield it's been looking for under coach Bruce Arians. But the way Chris Johnson played Thursday night might lead Arians to make him the every-down between-the-tackle back, so he's a lock for the roster. He can certainly carry the load. My toughest decision was spots four and five. Kerwynn Williams looked good at times during camp but Arians mentioned his sub-par receiving skills more than once. Hughes is needed for pass protection, as is Taylor. But Taylor can also fill other roles as needed, like he showed the final four games of last season. Hughes and Taylor are also key special teams players.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
Nelson became a lock for the roster, in my opinion, during the first week of training camp. He's just reaffirmed that over the past three weeks. Brown has become an integral part of special teams as a gunner opposite Justin Bethel that his fate was also sealed once Jaxon Shipley couldn't supplant him. I battled for a while about Golden. He's definitely made strides toward being a good NFL receiver and his speed doesn't hurt his case. Golden will also be in contention for the returner position, which has been vacant since Arizona cut Ted Ginn Jr. But Golden is also the most expendable if a roster spot is needed.
TIGHT END (4)
I hate to say it but Gerald Christian's knee injury in the preseason finale made Arians' decision a little easier. Christian has been a contributor on special teams and has found a role in backfield blocking schemes. But with him out, the Cardinals are left with four tight ends, all of whom will make the roster. Momah has been one of the biggest surprises in camp and he's wowed with his receiving ability. Arians has called him an "adequate" blocker but that'll be enough to win the job. With how prone Niklas and Gresham have been, this is a position the Cardinals could end up going outside the team to fill roster spots later in the season.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
With Bobby Massie's suspension for the first three games of the season pending, I didn't include him on my 53-man roster because until Week 4 his roster spot will be taken by someone else. However, when he returns and Iupati is healthy, I don't think Arizona keeps 10 offensive linemen. Potential victims could be Sowell, especially if Watford continues to develop, or Larsen, if Sendlein wins the starting center job and Shipley becomes the swing guard/center. The Cardinals will likely have one swing tackle and one swing guard/center active on game day in addition to the starting five. There's a possibility of having an eighth offensive lineman active but it's unlikely. Depending on how he starts the season, Humphries could be inactive on game days if Sowell is kept around. The more I break down the roster, Larsen and Sowell may be the odd men out once the offensive line is healthy again.
DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
This was the hardest position to nail down. There is so much depth on the defensive line that any combination of Mauro, Ta'amu or Matt Shaughnessy could have filled the final roster spot. I went with Mauro and Ta'amu because of Mauro's position flexibility (he can play defensive tackle and end) and because Ta'amu allows Gunter and Williams to be versatile. The Cardinals have sent a message by playing Shaughnessy on the third team all camp. He's in the second year of a two-year deal, and it wouldn't be a hit financially. After moving him inside, he simply got pushed out of the rotation by Gunter and Redding. And with Martin -- who traded positions with Shaughnessy -- playing so well at outside linebacker, there's no need for Shaughnessy there.
At the start of training camp, I wasn't convinced Woodley would make the 53-man roster. But with all the young outside pass-rushers, Woodley is needed. Arizona may look thin at inside linebacker with Minter, Weatherspoon and Fua but safety Deone Bucannon will spend most -- if not all of his snaps in the box as a de facto linebacker. Fua wins this spot over fellow rookie Gabe Martin because of his size and versatility. Arians prefers players who are position flexible. With Fua having played outside linebacker in college and being put on special teams, he gives defensive coordinator James Bettcher a lot of options. One player who I think will also be a renaissance man as far as situational roles go is Riddick. While Golden will be a third-down rusher, Riddick can be used on all three downs.
The first three spots were guarantees. Bethel was a lock just because of his role as a gunner, for which he's gone to Pro Bowl the past two years. Brooks wins a tight battle with Jimmy Legree, who could end up on the practice squad. Arians had raved about Legree earlier in camp but Brooks performed better during preseason games, including returning an interception of Raiders QB Derek Carr 81 yards for a touchdown. Legree, who suffered a calf injury, could make the roster if Arizona decides to keep seven defensive linemen.
Nothing new here. I could see the Cardinals signing Harold Jones-Quartey to the practice squad.
The biggest surprise here was Butler winning the job over veteran Dave Zastudil. Other than, it's the status quo for another season.